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Given Half a Chance: Ten Ways to Save the World

By Edward Davey

How to address the world’s environmental challenges and make life better and more peaceful for people, nature, and the planet

116% funded
187 supporters

Publication date: Spring 2019

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Given Half a Chance is both a snapshot of our world and a call to arms, setting out the most pressing environmental challenges that we face while making a passionate case for why we need to meet them.

From fields of solar panels in Nevada to the flourishing agricultural landscapes of Ethiopia; from the traditional water harvesters of northern Rajasthan to Britain’s inspiring waste campaigners; from the savannas of Northern Kenya teeming with elephants to the clear skies above Scandinavian cities, amazing things are happening right now across the world. People are acting with hope and courage, against all the odds, to make things better.

The challenge before us is to go to scale and to replicate these successful approaches elsewhere, fast: this book draws on firsthand experience and interviews with many of the world’s leading experts to show how.


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  • Edward Davey avatar

    Edward Davey

    Edward Davey is the Project Director at World Resources Institute and has worked for The Prince of Wales’s International Sustainability Unit on global environmental issues, leading the organisation’s work on forests and climate change, as well as for the Colombian presidency on Colombia’s natural environment and the conservation of the Amazon. He has spent time in Iraq and the Middle East for a humanitarian charity. Given Half a Chance is his first book.

  • A New Blueprint for Humanity

    This is a book about how to transform humanity’s relationship with the natural environment and bring about a better future for the world and all its inhabitants in the years to come. My argument is an optimistic one. I believe that it is still possible for the people of the world – all seven billion of us today; and a projected 9 billion by 2050 – to find a way to live a dignified life with a lighter footprint on the ecology and climate of this remarkable planet. Despite all that we have done, it is still possible to restore the earth. But we will need to act with great vision, generosity and collective foresight, summoning the best of human intelligence and the human spirit, if we are to do so. To effect this transformation is the abiding challenge of our times.

    We have learnt a great deal in recent decades about the impact we are having on the Earth, whether through climate change, the loss of biodiversity, or different forms of pollution. More people around the world are concerned by these trends, and keen to reverse them, than perhaps ever before in human history. We have also understood with greater clarity than before the potential solutions to the world’s environmental problems. We know what needs to be done to bring about a different, better future. But we have no time to lose.

  • Edward Davey has written 3 private updates. You can pledge to get access to them all.

    21st April 2020 Letter to Lara in Lockdown

    Letter to Lara in Lockdown

    …on the 50th Anniversary of Earth Day, Wednesday 22nd April 2020…

    My beloved daughter, Lara,

    You were born on Tuesday 7th April 2020 in Queen Charlotte’s Hospital in London, right in the middle of the Covid-19 pandemic. The midwives all wore protective gear. I was lucky to be present, and cried when I saw that you were a girl, and held you for the first…

    18th December 2019 A Christmas thank you message to you all ...

    ...with very best wishes and love, Ed


    2nd November 2019 1200 copies sold

    Dear all, Quick update to say I have sold 1200 copies. Thank you all again so much for having given me this opportunity. Reviews on Amazon still welcome if you feel so inspired! Warmest wishes and thanks, Edward

    12th May 2019 Update

    Sunday 12th May 2019

    Dear all,

    Given Half a Chance sold over 900 copies in the first 10 days following publication. I am now eagerly awaiting sales figures for the first month, due in the next week or so.

    Copies are being spotted and bought in bookshops around the land (see one photo from Waterstones below). 

    I would be so grateful for more reviews on Amazon: if you've enjoyed the book…

    16th April 2019 a lovely launch ; and now 'my kingdom for a review'...

    Dear all

    Many thanks to all who came to a fun launch in Daunt Books, Holland Park, last week.  A lovely evening!  Tony Juniper, a long-standing friend and mentor, summed it up when he said that pessimism is the greatest threat of all...

    Book due out on Thursday 18th April.  James Daunt who runs Waterstones has kindly said he will read a copy.

    If anyone has time to file a review on Amazon…

    6th April 2019 Book launch on Wednesday 10th April at 6:30pm in Daunt Books Holland Park!

    Dear All,

    Just a quick reminder for those hoping to come to my book launch in London next Wednesday 10th April.

    The launch is from 06:30 - 08:00 at Daunt Books in Holland Park.  There will be quick speeches from Tony Juniper and me at 06:45.  All most welcome. There will be wine and books on sale for 10 pounds.

    The DC launch on the 4th was lovely and uplifting. 50 people came and there was…

    28th March 2019 Quick update: book launches; talks; reviews; etc...

    Dear All,

    Not long now until the book is out in shops and on websites -- Thursday 18th April!

    I have launches in Washington DC on Thursday 4th April at 17:00 at WRI, and in London at Daunt Books at 18:30 on Wednesday 10th April (note later start time for the London launch than previously announced...).  Please do join me - and feel free to invite friends who you think might be interested. 

    2nd February 2019 Thank you

    Dear all,

    Thank you so much for your kind messages since copies of the book have begun to land on people's doorsteps in recent days.  So encouraging and nice to hear.

    If you know any reviewers who might be interested in reading it, please do let me know.  And if you feel moved to do a review on Amazon, this will also help a great deal. Link for the book on Amazon here:…

    22nd January 2019 Book signing in Unbound's warehouse, Oli in tow

    Dear all,

    A happy morning spent in Unbound's warehouse, with Oli, signing 237 books 'with love and thanks' to my wonderful subscribers.

    I cannot thank you all enough for having supported the book; without you, it wouldn't have happened.

    It was a joy to see whole boxes' worth piled up on the table at the delivery company in Basildon. And I also enjoyed the moment on arrival at reception, in…

    22nd January 2019 237 books signed this morning!

    Dear all, I signed the books for you all this morning, with Oli in tow, and with love and thanks! They should be with you within a week or so... All best wishes, Ed

    11th December 2018 Save The Date (and RSVP): Wednesday 10th April 2019: book launch in Daunt Books, Holland Park!

    Dear Friends/Supporters,

    Please kindly let me know if you can come to my book launch on Wednesday 10th April 2019 at 6:30pm at Daunt Books in Holland Park , by emailing me at ...

    The front and back cover of the book have been designed, and it's looking terrific. See an image of the front cover below.

    All best wishes for a happy Christmas, and the end is in sight!

    31st October 2018 Progress!

    Dear Friends and Supporters,

    I hope this finds you all very well.

    I am happy to say that the end is in sight with 'Given Half A Chance: Ten Ways to Save the World'.

    The book will be published on April 19th 2019, and is currently undergoing its last edit.

    The first mock-up of the cover follows below. I hope you like it.

    I have 162 backers, which is wonderful, and am hoping to boost the…

    4th August 2018 'Given Half a Chance: Ten Ways to Save the World'

    Dear Friends and Supporters,                                                                         Saturday 4th August 2018

    It has been an exciting month for my book.

    The first news is that I have a new title!  After extensive consultation, and with some encouragement from the editorial team at Unbound, my revised title for the book is: 'Given Half a Chance: Ten Ways to Save the World'.

    2nd July 2018 The next stage!

    Dear Friends and Supporters,

    I hope this finds you all very well.

    A quick note to say that my book has reached the next stage: the final manuscript has been submitted for copy edit!

    I am very grateful to my editor, Phil, who worked hard on the draft in recent weeks to release the true book from within a hefty tome ...

    I am very happy with the result, and grateful for his wise counsel throughout…

    11th July 2017 A Restored Earth: Ten Paths to a Hopeful Future

    Dear All,

    A quick update from me with six reflections, pieces of news and calls for help:

    1. First things first: Oliver is ten weeks old and a huge source of laughter and joy, not to mention renewed passion and concern for the future of this precious planet of ours; D and I are enthralled by our beloved son and his every move, smile and laugh...;

    2. I have a new Patron for the book, Steve…

    1st June 2017 Oliver

    Dear Friends and Supporters,

    Apologies for the radio silence since the 18th April.

    As some of you will already know, I am delighted to say that our beloved son Oliver was born on Friday 28th April at 09:27pm at the Royal Free (a few photos below).  I have spent the past month or so immersed in the joys of parenthood.  And while I have spent a lot of time thinking about the book, and the world…

    18th April 2017 Update on 'A Restored Earth: Ten paths to a hopeful future'

    Dear All,

    A quick update on Tuesday 18th April 2017 ...

    Today, I submit my latest manuscript to my editor Phil.  It is 45,000 words or so, and I feel I've made some good progress -- although there is still a lot to do; ideas to gather and refine; lots of editing to be done; more interviews and perspectives still to harvest; and so on.  

    I am about to have a two week break from the book, because…

    24th March 2017 An update on 'A Restored Earth'

    Dear All,

    A moving and disturbing week, with the sad and shocking events in London, the desperate humanitarian crisis in Yemen and Sub-Saharan Africa, and -- on the climate and environment issue -- further signs that President Trump seems set on rowing back on so many of the positive environmental steps taken by his predecessor (not to mention administrations of the past 40 years), at a time when…

    10th March 2017 An update on 'A Restored Earth'

    Dear Friends,

    A brief update on 'A Restored Earth: Ten Paths to A Hopeful Future'.

    I feel as if the book is beginning to come together, but there is a great deal still to do.  The next month is critical, as at any time from early April onwards I expect to become a father - a joyous prospect, on so many fronts; but not perhaps, in the early months at least, one readily compatible with ardent…

    24th February 2017 Interviews with James Thornton & Simon Reddy; update

    Friday 24th February 2017

    Dear All,

    A short update this week with links to interviews with James Thornton, CEO of Client Earth, and Simon Reddy, until recently Executive Director of the Global Ocean Commission, both of whom had many helpful and insightful things to say, and both of whom were inspiring in different ways.

    James' organisation, Client Earth, uses the power of the law to bring…

    16th February 2017 Recent interviews; my first talk (Tues 21st Feb); the next 2 months...

    Dear All,

    An update on 'A Restored Earth', now 101% funded thanks to all of you!


    Links to six recent various recent interviews are now up on line: I hope you enjoy them.

    Dr. Rowan Williams, former Archbishop of Canterbury, kindly recorded on video by Christian Aid:

    Mark Watts, Director of the C40, a coalition…

    1st February 2017 100% funded -- thank you!

    Dear All,                                                                                                Wednesday 1st February 2017

    I returned home last night from a lovely interview for 'A Restored Earth' with Rowan Williams to learn that I had reached my funding target!  Thank you all so much for your support: this book would not be happening without you. 

    A link to the recording with Rowan…

    29th January 2017 82%; 5 recent interviews; encouragement from my editor; next steps...

    Dear All,

    A short note, a few hours before Donald Trump's inauguration, to say that it's been an encouraging couple of weeks for 'A Restored Earth: Ten Paths to a Hopeful Future' -- my modest contribution to setting out how we might, together, bring into being a better, more peaceful and more sustainable world in the years and decades ahead.

    The first and most important bit of good news was…

    9th January 2017 Sir David Attenborough; 80% funded; links to interviews with Gordon Conway & Peter Wadhams; and a first draft 20,000 words to the editor!

    Dear All,

    It was a great privilege to interview Sir David Attenborough on Wednesday 4th January for the book. His mind was as startlingly vibrant and agile as ever, and he was generous with his intellect and his time. I am very grateful to him, and will treasure the photograph that his daughter Susan kindly took of us both at the end.

    I have transcribed the interview in full, and it currently…

    23rd December 2016 Update; interview with Mike Barry, M&S; Happy Christmas; and here's to 2017!

    Dear All,

    My last missive until 2017.  Thank you all so much for your support. I have now reached 79% of my target (in the 92 days since the book went live). With luck, early 2017 will see the rest come through.

    I am going to bury myself in the manuscript for a few days from the 27th - 30th; then see in the New Year in Bridport, Dorset with Davina, Rosie (our dog) and 'Bump'; and then return…

    22nd December 2016 75% funded -- and an interview with Christiana Figueres ...

    Dear All,

    75% funded, which is terrific -- and while, with four days left, I don't now anticipate tumbling over the finishing line in time for Christmas Day, it feels nevertheless as if the end is in sight ... and so I would like to renew my heartfelt thanks to the 113 people who have so far supported and the many more who have spread the word.  It means a great deal.  

    To celebrate 75%, please…

    15th December 2016 73% funded -- and an interview with Tony Juniper !!

    Dear All,

    'A Restored Earth' is now 73% funded thanks to your generous support.  Still ten days until Christmas in case any of you know of family, friends, charities or companies who may still wish to come behind the project!

    I am delighted, too, to upload a half hour interview with Tony Juniper recorded on Wednesday 14th December.  Tony is a mentor and a friend, as well as one of the most inspiring…

    6th December 2016 63% - can we reach target by Christmas?

    Dear All I've now reached 63% of my target thanks to your kind and generous support -- and Sir David Attenborough has agreed to an interview in early January! Please help me even more by sharing news of the book with five friends and family members. It would be wonderful to meet my target by Christmas!! All best wishes and huge thanks, Edward

    25th November 2016 An interview with Achim Steiner, Director of the Oxford Martin School

    Dear All,

    An interview recorded on Friday 18th November with the distinguished German-Brazilian environmentalist Achim Steiner, now Director of the Oxford Martin School, and formerly Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme.  

    Achim is highly articulate and inspiring, as always, and covers a lot of ground in our 45 minutes together: renewable energy; cities; water; dams…

    10th November 2016 50% funded!!!

    Dear All,

    Some happy news after the US election result, as well as a huge vote of thanks: today I reached 50% of my crowd-funding target for 'A Restored Earth'! 

    Thank you so much for all your generosity and all your support.  I am immensely grateful.

    I am very much enjoying writing the book.

    In the next month, I have interviews lined up with Achim Steiner, until recently Director of the…

    4th November 2016 An interview with Colombian anthropologist Martin von Hildebrand

    Dear All,

    Please find below a link to a 38 minute interview with the celebrated Colombian anthropologist Martin von Hildebrand, recorded yesterday (Thursday 3rd November 2016).

    Martin has worked with the indigenous peoples of the Colombian Amazon since the early 1970s, and was responsible (as he recounts in the interview) for a…

    22nd October 2016 An interview with Michael McCarthy, author of 'The Moth Snowstorm: Nature and Joy'

    Dear All,

    A fascinating, challenging and rewarding interview with the author, journalist and environmentalist Michael McCarthy this morning, an unedited version of which follows at the link below.

    We started by talking about his wonderful book, 'The Moth Snowstorm: Nature and Joy', which I have recently read and which I was very moved by: http://www…

    14th October 2016 34% funded; and a recording of an interview with Lord Nicholas Stern

    Dear All,

    To celebrate the milestone of reaching a third of my funding target (for which many renewed thanks to all of you!), please find below a link to my interview with Lord Nicholas Stern, President of the British Academy. 

    We recorded the interview yesterday in Nick's sunlit office at the Academy, where he will continue to serve as President until next July, alongside his various roles…

    10th October 2016 An interview with John Sauven

    Last week, I interviewed one of my environmental heroes, Greenpeace UK Executive Director John Sauven, for the book.  He was kind enough to give me an hour, on the record, uncut, which can be seen on Unbound's You Tube site below.

    I do hope you enjoy the interview, which was wide-ranging and I hope informative, and in which John gave a clear and cogent account of his take on what we need to do…

    3rd October 2016 A Restored Earth: my first Shed post

    Dear All,

    My first Shed post, a week or so since the project went live.

    It's been an exciting start: the book is now 26% funded, with 43 kind and generous contributions from a wide variety of supporters from around the world, and the number growing by the day.

    The plan is to continue spreading the word with enthusiasm, so please do share news of the book as widely as you can among friends…

  • These people are helping to fund Given Half a Chance: Ten Ways to Save the World.

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  • Wenda Shehata
    Wenda Shehata asked:

    Content removed by Moderator.

    Edward Davey
    Edward Davey replied:

    Dear Wenda, It's a very good question, and one you are entirely right to ask. As it happens, I am not a vegan myself, or even a strict vegetarian, although I was a lacto-ovo vegetarian for six years or so when I was younger. I am however quite seriously considering becoming a vegetarian again, although not yet certain I will. I take great care with meat and fish; try not to eat it often; and, when I do, will only do so if I am certain that it is certified, free-range, and has lived in good conditions. I do genuinely believe that if the whole world were vegetarian, or indeed vegan, we would go a long way towards addressing the environmental problems of our time, and so I am with you, and thankful to you for asking the question. Do let me know your thoughts as happy to continue the discussion ... All the best, and with admiration, Edward

    Hugh Knowles
    Hugh Knowles asked:

    Ed, We are running an event about how data/connectivity can help restoration agenda. Can we email you details? Might be able to get backing for your book as part of attendance. Thanks Hugh

    Edward Davey
    Edward Davey replied:

    Dear Hugh, Thanks so much for the support for the book -- and yes of course ; please do : Sounds fascinating, your event... All the best, Ed

    Geoffrey Darnton
    Geoffrey Darnton asked:

    I would like to follow up points made by Wenda. I have a book idea myself on existential threats to humanity, as one follow-on book to my Nuclear Weapons and International Law. One chapter in my book (if it ever emerges!) would be about meat eating (that includes fish etc. - all the things vegans don't do) as one existential threat. Presumably your background means that you are aware that animal etc production contributes more to global warming that all the world's road vehicles combined?, and that Malthus's greatest mistake was probably his date estimates - meat etc., is an incredibly inefficient way to provide nutrients to people, and given population growth veganism is an essential discussion point for the book you are proposing. I care far less about your personal choices over your diet, but this is an issue that should be addressed - I cannot see how a book aiming to talk about a new blueprint for humanity could not talk about such an important matter. Promise to include this topic of diet, and I'll support the book!

    Edward Davey
    Edward Davey replied:

    Dear Geoffrey, I hereby promise that Chapter 9 (on what you can do to make a difference) will give due consideration to the issue of diet as well as food waste; and that the issue will also arise in Chapter 3 on soil and sustainable agriculture. Thank you for writing and for your support for the book! All the best, Edward

    IDEAA Regeneration Systems
    IDEAA Regeneration Systems asked:

    Dear Mr. Davey, will contamination be too addressed? I am particularly thinking about chemical contamination derived from massive plastic use, but not only. Best regards, Luisa Ward

    Edward Davey
    Edward Davey replied:

    Dear Luisa, Thank you for asking. I am hoping to cover waste and contamination in Chapter 8, as part of a discussion of waste and the circular economy. Do send me further thoughts & ideas, as keen to do the issue justice, and to highlight some of the solutions to the problem...all best wishes, Edward